of the emergency and be prepared for what action should be taken. The clinical significance of an active sensor is that emergency intervention can be requested in the absence of patient action, and that the emergency response can be provided in advance with information that would otherwise have to be gathered immediately upon arrival.

  • Empowerment of patients and their families in effective management of health care decisions and execution, including personal health records (as contrasted to medical records held by care providers), education about the individual’s conditions and options, and support of timely and focused communication with professional health care providers.

    The son of an elderly man hospitalized by a stroke needs to know about his father’s medical condition. Rather than waiting for hours by his father’s bedside to intercept a physician on rounds so that he can obtain authoritative information, he logs into a secure application that makes his father’s electronic health record (EHR) available on the Internet. But since he is not a physician himself, he invokes a data interpretation application that examines the data in the EHR and provides in lay language a summary of the important aspects of a patient’s medical condition, previously provided treatments, and treatment options under consideration. The application provides an interpretation (and the reasoning behind the interpretation) that is comparable to that which an experienced clinician could provide. The clinical significance of an automated EHR lay interpretation system is that the family can be kept in the decision-making loop, in a culturally sensitive way and on a more timely basis than is possible today, and potentially avoid delays often involved when families need time to make decisions—since they learn relevant facts sooner (perhaps even days sooner), they can start the process sooner. In addition to the data flowing from caregivers, the son can also enter information based on his knowledge of his father’s present state and medical history, providing caregivers with another source of information, and empowering the son to have a greater role in his father’s treatment.



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